Uranium-rich South Africa has noncoal emissions-reduction opportunity – consultancy

3rd April 2015

By: Dylan Stewart

Creamer Media Reporter


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Nuclear generation is likely to be the only noncoal solution that could potentially enable South Africa to reach its carbon emissions reduction target, says global energy and resource specialist Venmyn Deloitte mining advisory exploration manager Andrew de Klerk, adding that South Africa hosts sufficient uranium deposits to make this happen.

In his State of the Nation Address in February this year, President Jacob Zuma reaffirmed the country’s target of 9 600 MW of nuclear energy-generation capacity by 2023, which would constitute 23% of South Africa’s total new electricity generation capacity.

“The supply of uranium is a key factor for nuclear energy generation and Southern Africa is abundant in uranium,” De Klerk explains to Mining Weekly.

South Africa has the fifth-largest known uranium reserves in the world, but is only the twelfth-biggest producer currently pro- ducing 531 t of uranium a year, contributing 0.9% of global production.

De Klerk asserts that there is extensive knowledge about Southern Africa’s geology in terms of the distribution of uranium deposits.

“Based on South Africa’s geological knowledge, as well as results from historical and current exploration and production, the bulk of the uranium required to support a nuclear build programme in South Africa would likely be sourced from the gold-rich Witwatersrand basin.”

In the Witwatersrand basin, uranium is currently mined as a by-product of gold, and De Klerk says this area is bound to be South Africa’s primary source of uranium, owing to the highly developed existing mining infrastructure.

He further notes that historical and recent exploration and trial-mining results indicate significant uranium resources within the Karoo sediments of the Western Cape. Extending into both the Eastern Cape and the Free State, this area has been delineated as the Karoo uranium province, De Klerk adds.

He says further uranium reserves have been found in the Springbok Flats coalfield, north of Pretoria, in the coal zone of the Ecca group, which is a group of sedimentary rock formations in Southern Africa.

Edited by Leandi Kolver
Creamer Media Deputy Editor


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